WESTMINSTER -- Lisa Bianconi has been numb since the spring.
The music director at Kurn Hattin Homes for Children was one of an initial 30,000 people nominated for the first-ever Grammy Music Educator Award earlier this year. That, at the time, seemed like a big enough honor, but Bianconi was stunned to make the cut when that number was shaved down to 217 quarterfinalist in May and 25 semifinalists in September. But her magical journey will continue for at least another month or so, as she was recently named one of the 10 finalists for the award.
Bianconi, in her 29th year at Kurn Hattin, told the Reformer the winner will be named in January 2014 and then flown to the Grammy Awards ceremony, where the award will be presented, in Los Angeles in February. The Grammy Music Educator Award, according to Grammy.com, was established to recognize current music educators from kindergarten through college, in both public and private schools, who have made a significant contribution to music education and who demonstrate a commitment to maintaining music education in schools.
Grammy.com also states the winner will receive a $10,000 honorarium, while all finalists will get a $1,000 one.
Bianconi said the past several months have felt like a dream.
"I am just so humbled with a capital ‘H,'" she said shortly before the student concert at Kurn Hattin's Holiday Visitors Day in the Higbie Auditorium on Thursday. "I'm so proud to work at Kurn Hattin and be a part of this amazing success story. Who would ever think, honestly, that doing what you love every day would put you in this (spot)?"
She told the Reformer she is still in a state of shock over the possibility of winning a Grammy.
Kurn Hattin Co-Executive Director Connie Sanderson, who nominated Bianconi for the award and has known her for roughly 25 years, has previously said the music director has passion for teaching children and making a difference in their lives.
"She creates an educational environment that is infused with excitement and she brings outs the best in every child," Sanderson said.
She said she had been chatting with one of the women who help with Kurn Hattin's public relations and casually mentioned she would nominate Bianconi if there was a national award for music educators. She said one of the women called the following day to tell her about the first-ever Grammy Music Educator Award, and the rest in recent history.
Before the start of the student concert Thursday, Kurn Hattin School Principal Scott Tabachnick welcomed all the guests and publicly recognized Bianconi for her achievement. He thanked Bianconi for her dedication and congratulated her on being a Grammy finalist. Following a round of applause, Bianconi said it would not have been possible without "all the people in this room," and was handed a bouquet of flowers by a student.
Bianconi -- who teaches all general music, including select choir and instrumental programs -- was part of the less than 1 percent of nominees selected for the quarterfinals. She told the Reformer she wrote a 500-word essay on her philosophy of education and a videography company recorded some required videos of her "showing contribution to music education at the school" and of her teaching students.
In September, she told the Reformer the four key points in her essay were: Every child should feel like they're special and important; every child is good enough to perform; music is a unifying source with a power to transfer lives; and all children should have the opportunity to express themselves through it.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.